In his excellent blog Good Math, Bad Math
, Mark Chu-Carroll asks and answers the question IP: Real or Bogus?
"I've got some good friends who believe whole-heartedly that the entire idea of "intellectual property" is nonsense, and that copyrights (much less patents) should not exist at all. I can't agree with that, not on any level. The short version of my disagreement is that the most basic idea of property is that when I produce value, the value produced is mine. If I take wood, and I do the work of turning it into a chair, it's my chair, and my work created a valuable artifact. That artifact, the product of my work, is mine, and I can use it or sell it as I desire. I don't think that the fact that a work in intangible changes the essential nature of that: if I write a book, then my work has created something of value, and it's up to me to decide whether to keep it, or sell it, or give it away."
By and large, I'm in agreement with him. Reading the post, left me recalling Chapter 5 of Locke's 2nd Treatise of Government
which, arguably, forms the intellectual basis for property as we conceive it. Key to Locke's conception of property is the labor component:
"Though the earth, and all inferior creatures, be common to all men, yet every man has a property in his own person: this no body has any right to but himself. The labour of his body, and the work of his hands, we may say, are properly his. Whatsoever then he removes out of the state that nature hath provided, and left it in, he hath mixed his labour with, and joined to it something that is his own, and thereby makes it his property. It being by him removed from the common state nature hath placed it in, it hath by this labour something annexed to it, that excludes the common right of other men: for this labour being the unquestionable property of the labourer, no man but he can have a right to what that is once joined to, at least where there is enough, and as good, left in common for others."
It may be a worthwhile read, if you're interested in going back to "the source" so to speak.link